When the Mets were a perennial contender during the dawn of Citizens Bank Park, it sometimes sounded as if New York were at home in South Philadelphia with their ‘Jose, Jose’ chants for former star Jose Reyes and their ardent middle-aged fan, who clanged a cow-bell during Metropolitan rallies.
The current crop of Mets, who beat the Phillies 5-3 Monday afternoon and took three out of four during the series, play like Citizens Bank Park is their home yard. The Mets have won 12 of their last 15 games at Citizens Bank Park.
“I don’t know how to explain that,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We play really well here.”
Anthony Recker’s three-run homer and Matt den Dekker’s RBI double was the difference for the Mets, who held off a late-game rally by the Phillies, which has been the norm of late for Ryne Sandberg’s club. Trailing by three with two out in the ninth, Cody Asche walked. Chase Utley pinch hit and appeared to drill a two-run homer. However, it was ruled a ground double due to fan interference.
But the play of the game was a slider gone awry. After the Mets’ first two men reached base in the seventh, starter David Buchanan was lifted in favor of Justin DeFratus. The move made sense since the bullpen has been pitching very well of late, particularly DeFratus, who retired 17 in a row to that point. However, DeFratus hung a slider, which Recker wrecked.
“I have a lot of faith in that slider,” DeFratus said. “But in that at bat, I threw two of the worst sliders I’ve thrown all years.
Darin Ruf, who made a rare start, drilled a two-run homer but don’t expect Sandberg to bench Howard, who hit two homers and drove in nine during the homestand.
“I like the way he (Howard) has been hitting,” Sandberg said. “He’s making solid contact.”